Arguing that a Pakistan military court trial and sentencing of Kulbhushan Jadhav “hopelessly failed” to satisfy due process, India Monday urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague to annul Jadhav’s death sentence and order his immediate release.
The four-day trial had began Monday at the ICJ headquarters.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, the lawyer representing India and Jadhav in the case at the ICJ, opened the hearing Monday. The top UN court heard Pakistan’s submissions on Tuesday, which will be followed by counters from both countries on Wednesday and Thursday.
New Delhi had asked for “immediate suspension” of the death sentence, and asked ICJ to ask Pakistan to annul the sentence and if that was not possible, then the ICJ should declare the decision as “illegal” and release Jadhav.
“India seeks the relief of annulment of Jadhav’s conviction and a direction that he be released forthwith,” said Salve, adding that the “Military Courts of Pakistan cannot command the confidence of this Court and should not be sanctified by a direction to them to review and reconsider the case”. This showed New Delhi’s complete distrust of Pakistan’s military courts.
Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.
“Pakistani military courts are not independent and the proceedings before them fall far short of national and international fair trial standards. Judges of military courts are military officers who are a part of the executive branch of the State and do not enjoy independence from the military hierarchy. They are not required to have judicial or legal training or even a law degree, and do not enjoy any security of tenure, which are prerequisites of Judicial competence and Independence,” he told the ICJ.
He argued that “Pakistan has not provided any credible evidence,” and that “inhuman detention is a violation of universal rights”.
The ICJ has set a timetable for the public hearing in the high-profile case from February 18 to 21 at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands. It is expected that the ICJ’s decision may be delivered by the summer of 2019.